Today we share the second client story in the series for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week where we are asked to “Come As You Are” to share stories about all types of eating disorders.
Three stays and three diagnoses later (anorexia, EDNOS, and bulimia) and I am here to tell the tale. Why? I am not sure, but by the grace of God. It has been a long battle. One that still isn’t over. But as I am now, I can promise it gets better with time, distance, and healing.
I don’t really know where to begin. I guess the beginning would make sense but that goes way back. To paint a clear picture I’ll start in middle school. The other kids are outside at recess. I am stuck in the classroom pushing food around which I dare not eat. You see, the teachers and my parents have already had the conversation. The one that says “your daughter isn’t eating.” I’m in the middle of a long, serious, battle with anorexia. At the time I would not confess nor admit it to myself and certainly not to anyone else. This battle continues for years on end. Fast forward. I am 18-yrs-old. I walk through the doors at Chrysalis, terrified. There I am officially diagnosed. Fast forward again. I just graduated college at age 22. Time for a long seven-month inpatient stay at a treatment center. Tubes come and go, and finally I am released. Mentally still really struggling but physically going through the motions of being okay. It doesn’t last though. I ship off again. This time to a place called Castlewood for six months, but who is counting? Again, I go through the motions. Even begin to heal. Again, I become sick. I go back. Third time’s the charm? I hope so.
Now, I walk through the doors at Chrysalis, but not because I am starving, purging, working out to the point of exhaustion, or using a multitude of other negative coping strategies. I walk through the doors not because all I can think about is food and calories; I walk through those doors because I want life rather than mere existence. I want to be the best version of myself possible. I want to be a better woman than I was yesterday. And, I want to understand yesterday’s pain more deeply. I walk through those doors not because I am isolated and all alone. I walk in because I have so many dear friends who are in the battle, too. So many beautiful souls, who like me, do not deserve the cards they have been dealt.
Life isn’t fair or easy. But I am glad I have life. Now, on the bad days I skip meals and fight with my wardrobe. On the good days, I am truly learning to love myself inside and out. I am still waiting for the body image piece to get better. I believe it will. Everything else has. I am no longer anxious every time I sit down to eat. I no longer just go through the motions. Hell, sometimes I even enjoy food. I smile and mean it. I use my voice over my actions to tell people when I am not okay. And I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. And so, I come through those doors as I am. Not as I was. Nothing more, nothing less than I am here and now. That’s all I can do. I invite you to do the same.